The Cuba reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Cuba

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Alternate meanings: see Cuba (disambiguation)

The Republic of Cuba is another archipelago in the northern Caribbean, in between the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. To the north are found the United States and the Bahamas, to the west Mexico, to the south the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, and to the southeast Haiti.

República de Cuba
125px
Image:Cuba_coa.png
(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto: "Patria y Libertad"
(Spanish: Homeland and Freedom)
image:LocationCuba.png
Official language Spanish
Capital Havana (La Habana)
Largest City Havana (La Habana)
President Fidel Castro
Area
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 106th
100,860 km²
Negligible
Population
 - Total (2002)
 - Density
Ranked 67th
11,184,023
101/km²
Independence
 - Declared
 - Recognised
Sp.-Am. War
October 10, 1868
May 20, 1902
Currency Cuban Peso
Time zone UTC -5
National anthem La Bayamesa
Internet TLD .CU
Calling Code53

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 Provinces
4 Geography
5 Economy
6 Demographics
7 Culture
8 Miscellaneous topics
9 External links

History

Main article: History of Cuba

Cuba and its originally Amerindian population (Taino, Siboney and Guanajatabey) came under Spanish control in the 16th century. The colony's struggle for independence started in 1868 and continued during the 19th century until the Spanish-American War of 1898. The United States then occupied the island until recognising independence in 1902, though limited by the Platt Amendment (revoked in 1934), after which the US continued to exercise considerable control over Cuban affairs.

Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Raúl Castro and a small rebel army of less than 100 individuals were one of many guerilla groups that opposed Fulgencio Batista. Castro subsumed these other groups quickly and violently and took over Cuba's government in 1959. When Castro started to execute political opponents, nationalize all private property and promote ties to communist countries, relations with the US and other western nations rapidly deteriorated. Castro claimed he was "always a communist" and soon turned to Soviet backing and trade ties, declared the Revolution socialist in 1961, began socializing the economy and set up a Leninist style government led by the newly-recreated Communist Party of Cuba. A Constitution of Soviet inspiration was implemented in 1976.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the country, which the Soviets subsidized by $6 billion per year suffered a major economic setback, but has been steadily recovering since then, while maintaining a socially owned economy, in contrast to countries like China or Vietnam. There is only one party in Cuba and dissent is not tolerated. In 2002 after a national referendum socialism was recognized in the constitution as the firm and unchangable system (this change was initiated by American threats).

Politics

Main article: Politics of Cuba

Cuba is a "Communist state," or a parliamentary republic led by a Communist Party. Fidel Castro has been the head of state and head of government since 1959, first as prime minister and after the abolition of that office in 1976 as president. He is also the First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, and commander in chief of the armed forces.

The unicameral Cuban parliament is the National Assembly of People's Power or Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular. Its 609 members, representing a wide spectrum of the Cuban society, are elected to serve five-year terms. The candidates are nominated by people and independent political organisations (not the Communist Party). Independents who are not members of the Cuban Communist Party are occasionally elected. The Communist Party is constitutionally recognised as Cuba's only legal political party.

Other political issues include illegal emigration to the US, the economic and humanitarian embargo enforced by the United States (strengthened in 1996 by the Helms-Burton Act) and allegations of government imprisonment of political dissidents and human rights abuses.

In 2001 unsucessful attempts were made by Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and others, operating as the Varela Project, to force a national plebiscite using obscure provisions in the Constitution of Cuba which provided for citizen initiative. The Petition was refused, and a subsequent crackdown resulting in imprisonment of 75 political prisoners for terms of up to 28 years.

Provinces

Main article: Provinces of Cuba

Cuba is divided into 14 provinces of 169 municipalities, and one special municipality (the Isla de la Juventud).

Image:CubaSubdivisions.png
  1. Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth)
  2. Pinar del Río
  3. La Habana (Havana)
  4. Ciudad de la Habana (Havana City)
  5. Matanzas
  6. Cienfuegos
  7. Villa Clara
  8. Sancti Spíritus
  1. Ciego de Ávila
  2. Camagüey
  3. Las Tunas
  4. Granma
  5. Holguín
  6. Santiago de Cuba
  7. Guantánamo

Geography

Main article: Geography of Cuba

Map of CubaEnlarge

Map of Cuba

The elongated island of Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean and is bounded to the north by the Straits of Florida and the greater North Atlantic Ocean, to the northwest by the Gulf of Mexico, to the west by the Yucatan Channel, to the south by the Caribbean Sea, and to the east by the Windward Passage. The Republic comprises the entire island, including many outlying islands such as the Isle of Youth, with the exception of Guantanamo Bay, a naval base that has been leased by the United States since 1903. The mainland is the world's 16th largest island.

The island consists mostly of flat to rolling plains, with more rugged hills and mountains primarily in the southeast and the highest point is the Pico Real del Turquino at 2,005 m. The local climate is tropical, though moderated by trade winds. There is a drier season from November to April, and a rainier season from May to October. Havana is the largest city and capital, other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey.

Economy

Main article: Economy of Cuba

Cuba continues it's public ownership of the economy and has shown itself unwilling to implement "free market" reforms. Tourism has become one of the largest sources of income for Cuba and it has put the American dollar into circulation in parts of Cuba where tourists go.

The Cuban economy was hit hard in the early 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Comecon economic bloc, with which it had traded predominantly. More recent problems include high oil prices, recessions in key export markets such as sugar and nickel, damage from hurricanes, depressed tourism, and faltering world economic conditions. In late 2003, and early 2004, both tourism levels and nickel prices increased, as has the Cuban trade with the USA. One other factor in the "recovery" of the Cuban economy is the remittances of Cuban-Americans (which constitute one-third of the Cuban Economy). Cuba currently trades with almost every nation in the world except the US. Nevertheless, the Unites States allows U.S. multinational food companies to trade with Cuba provided the Cuban government pays in dollars. Cuba owes billions in Paris Club debt to nations such as France, Japan and Germany.

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of Cuba

Cuba is a multiracial society with a population of either mixed (mulatto) or more specific Spanish and African origins. Former Cuban Dictator Fulgencio Batista was of mulatto ancestry and it is rumored that racism was one of the reasons he was ousted from power. There is also a small ethnic Chinese community. The largest organised religion is the Roman Catholic Church. Afro-Cuban or Santería religions, a blend of native African religions and Roman Catholicism, are widely practiced in Cuba. Officially, Cuba had been an atheist state for most of the Castro era, but religious restrictions have been relaxed since 1991 and the state secularised. Smaller Protestant and Jewish minorities also exist.

Culture

Main article: Culture of Cuba

Holidays
DateEnglish NameLocal NameRemarks
January 1Liberation Day
May 1Día de los trabajadores
July 26Rebellion Day
October 10Day of the Heroic GuerrillaDía de la IndependenciaThis day Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, the father of the [patria in spanish], give freedom to their slaves and the war of the 1868 against the Spanish government began
December 25Christmas DayNavidad

Miscellaneous topics

External links


Countries in West Indies
Antigua and Barbuda | Bahamas | Barbados | Cuba | Dominica | Dominican Republic | Grenada | Haiti | Jamaica | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Trinidad and Tobago
Dependencies: Anguilla | Aruba | Bermuda | British Virgin Islands | Cayman Islands | Guadeloupe | Martinique | Montserrat | Netherlands Antilles | Puerto Rico | Turks and Caicos Islands | U.S. Virgin Islands